OTTAWA — The Liberal government introduced legislation Thursday to start aligning Canadian laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, despite a request from six provinces to delay the bill given their “legitimate, significant concerns” with its consequences.
Harmonizing Canadian laws with UNDRIP has long raised concerns that it could alter Canada’s legal framework around land and treaty rights, causing uncertainty and litigation particularly when it comes to natural resource projects.
But federal Justice Minister David Lametti, speaking alongside Indigenous leaders, told reporters that Bill C-15 sets out a framework for moving forward responsibly, and rejected the harshest criticisms of UNDRIP legislation — including the concern it could give Indigenous groups veto power over energy projects.
“There are a lot of fears being raised about it,” Lametti said. “We think they’re misplaced.” The legislation does not simply turn the declaration into law.
Instead, it requires the government “to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the rights of Indigenous peoples set out in the declaration,” the justice department said in a news release.